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Perham Public Schools enrollment projected to rise 10.5% over 10 years

John Powers of Applied Insights North said the enrollment will have “a jig and a jog” upward over the years.

A chart with colorful lines.
The Perham-Dent School District has an enrollment projection of a 10.5% increase over the next decade. Elementary school enrollment will remain stable, the middle school will increase and stabilize, and the high school will rise with larger incoming classes before leveling off again.
Contributed / Applied Insights North

PERHAM — The next 10 years are expected to bring continued population and economic growth in Perham.

This growth includes a 10.5% projected enrollment increase at Perham Public Schools by the 2031-2032 school year, as Duluth-based consultant John Powers told the school board at its March 16 meeting.

He said the K-12 enrollment is expected to increase from 1,554 to 1,720 students, with “a jig and a jog” upwards over the years.

The enrollment projection is part of the district’s long-term facilities plan, which the board kicked off in summer 2021. ICS Consulting is helping the district with board planning, community conversations, funding sources and project plans for an idea list of about 30 projects.

Enrollment at the elementary school grades is expected to increase to 534 students, the middle school to 542 students and the high school to 641 students.

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“Your resident enrollment…has grown and your non-resident enrollment has grown. You’re not overly reliant on either one — they’re both showing positive strength over the course of the last 10 years — and that, too, is going to be reflected in the projection,” Powers shared with the board. “This is a hallmark of a nicely balanced district.”

The enrollment projection is based on factors like how student enrollment has changed over the last 10 years, open enrollment rates with area districts, ongoing projects in Perham, and projected births.

Since the 2012-2013 school year, enrollment has grown 16.8%, from 1,330 to 1,554 students. More students of color are attending Perham schools now, too, with an increase of 8.1%, to 19.3% of total enrollment.

Both St. Paul’s Lutheran School and St. Henry’s Area School have an impact on the public school district's elementary enrollment, with about 11% of the total resident student pool attending those parochial schools. The resident student pool is the number of kindergarten to 12th grade students who live in the district. St. Paul’s is also adding seventh and eighth grade classes in fall 2022, with small numbers expected in the first few years. However, 100% of students graduate from Perham High School.

Districts also have students flow in and out due to open enrollment. About 110 students from Perham’s student resident pool attended New York Mills, along with 45 students attending Frazee-Vergas this school year. About 85 students from New York Mills attended Perham and 75 from Frazee-Vergas. Perham’s open enrollment is “static” overall, according to Powers.

A chart with colorful lines.
This graph shows how Perham-Dent School District enrollment has steadily increased from 2012 to 2022, while enrollment at other surrounding districts has stayed fairly even.
Contributed / Applied Insights North

Students attend certain districts based on factors like where their families live, where their parents work, and personal preference for a particular district.

During the pandemic, Perham saw an increase in the number of families that opted to homeschool, and also saw a smaller kindergarten class in the 2020-2021 school year. The district did show an “upward trajectory,” however, while area districts have “pretty flat” enrollment, as Powers said.

Read more about the district’s enrollment projection on the Perham Focus website.

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At the meeting, the board also approved:

  • The district’s American Indian Education Aid compliance report. Social studies teacher Hannah Levenhagen said the district saw an increase of Native American students this year. The district has gotten better at identifying students who might qualify, which increases state funding to support programs like culturally inclusive curriculum, books and artwork. This year’s funding increased about $6,000-$10,000. 
  • A memorandum of understanding for providing Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention services with Empowering Kids through the end of the school year. Board member Justine Anderson abstained.
  • A budget reduction resolution, which is annually approved. The resolution allows the administration to look at how to save money with programs and positions.
Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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